“How To” Project- Creating a Land Rover Defender 110

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-“How-To” Project-

The Making of Land Rover Defender 110

by Mark Mehlberger

In 1993 Land Rover shipped 500 Defender 110’s to the USA and had them NAS certified, and sold them for about $40,000. This was a promotion to correspond with the arrival of the LR Discovery to the US.   I love this vehicle and wanted to make one. I probably put about 50+ hours into this project over a 2 year period, but kept track of the process as much as possible during this time.

#1 This project started with a rescued   #13   Matchbox Real Wheels Land Rover Safari and a Matchbox Land Rover 90 Pizza delivery vehicle.

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#2   First step was to disassemble the two vehicles

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#3 I then stripped both of paint to begin the deconstruction.

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#4   I then carefully dissected the two bodies to obtain the sections needed for the Safari body. I used from the front door forward and the rear end of the 90 and roof and rear door back (minus the rear end) of the Safari.

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#5   The body of the Safari was about a 1/16th of an inch too narrow, so I had to cut it lengthwise and fill in the gap. Here is a mockup of the body held together with scotch tape prior to applying the epoxy.

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#6   I used slow setting JB WELD to attach all the body parts. I used slow setting because it has greater strength than the quick setting. These photos show the body after being glued and sanded. You can see the seams of where the lengthwise seem was filled.

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#7   I needed to extend the base. Since I used the rear body panel of the 90, I would be able to use the assembly pegs on the rear of the base to match back up with the rear end. However, I needed to extend the base, and at the same time, ensure that the axle aligns with the center of the Safari rear wheel wells. This required a little surgery. I separated the axle section from the front and rear of the base and temporarily glued a couple pieces of straight plastic pieces to get the proper extension from the original base to the repositioned rear end. Once this set up, I positioned the axle where it lined up with the wheel wells. Then I used JB WELD to fill in the gap. This required a couple of applications to properly build up the base.

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#8 I then used Milliput modeling putty to widen the wheel areas, as I was using some real wheels obtained from another donor that were not as wide as the exaggerated MB wheels on the original 90.

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#9   The 90 had recessed door outlines and the Safari had raised door outlines. As part of the smoothing the body, I filed off the Safari door outlines and used a scribe tool and CAREFULLY scribed the rear doors into the Safari section of the body.

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#10   The external roll cage was designed and assembled directly on the vehicle. I used Plastruct stock obtained from the architectural modeling supply section of a local art store. This is also available in most larger hobby stores and craft outlets.

I was wondering how I was going to make the gear basket and it came to me from the another item I found in the store’s selection. I found the architectural modeling supply section a great source of ideas for future projects.

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#11 Some final details included rear wheel well flairs to match the front, raised door handles, filled in the slots from the original front brush bar, and side-view mirrors.

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#12   The interior was assembled again from using the front and rear of the 90 interior and the middle section of the Safari interior. I carefully removed the front bench seats from the Safari and put in bucket seats similar to the seats in the actual vehicle. I also added the center console and dashboard to match the actual vehicle.

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#13   The vehicle was painted in Alpine white with Black trim (The only color the original 500 came in).

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Thanks to Mark for a great project!!

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